Freeman bill would allow additional local regulation of fireworks, increase penalties

HARRISBURG, June 29 – Municipalities would have more authority to regulate the use of fireworks and penalties would be increased for violating those regulations under legislation proposed by state Rep. Robert Freeman.

Freeman said a 2017 state law allows consumers, 18 or older, to purchase and use “Class C” or “consumer-grade” fireworks. Freeman voted against the legislation.

“Since the enactment of Act 43, my office has received numerous complaints regarding the legalization of consumer-grade fireworks, as it has greatly disrupted the lives of many people across Pennsylvania,” Freeman said.

Responding to those concerns, the Easton lawmaker drafted a proposal that would allow a municipality to enact an ordinance regulating the conditions, prohibitions, and limitations on the use of consumer fireworks, provided that the ordinance does not conflict with state law. It also would establish limitations on when fireworks could be used to minimize the disruption to residents of a community; limiting their use to between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with extended hours for certain holidays.

Additionally, the legislation would require notification, with each purchase of consumer fireworks, that provides the conditions, prohibitions and limitations for the use of consumer fireworks.

Finally, the bill would increase the penalties for violating the municipal regulations. A first conviction would be a summary offense and a fine between $100 and $500. A subsequent offense committed within one year of a prior conviction would be a third-degree misdemeanor and a fine between $500 and $1,000.

Freeman is seeking co-sponsors for the bill and plans to introduce it in the coming weeks.

“Meanwhile, I encourage anyone who uses fireworks to do so safely and follow state guidelines,” Freeman said.

According to the 2017 law, fireworks cannot be discharged:

  • on public or private property without express permission of the property owner.
  • from, within or toward a motor vehicle or building.
  • within 150 feet of an occupied structure, regardless if a person is present.
  • while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug.

“We need to give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and to impose substantial penalties for violating a local ordinance. My proposed bill will give them that,” Freeman said.